At 51, Wayne Gretzky will play in Russia for the first time

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Back when he was in his prime, Wayne Gretzky dreamed of playing against the Soviet Union as part of a new Summit Series.

Gretzky won three gold medals in the Canada Cup, including in 1987 when they defeated the Soviet Union in three games. As the Calgary Sun reported, he felt like the two nations could have play in a new eight-game series with contests spread out among Canada, the United States, Russia, and Europe.

“It really was my aspiration, but I never got the opportunity,” Gretzky said.

Still, he’ll be able to achieve something he never did when he was playing in the NHL. He will join Brett Hull and Mark Messier to play hockey in Russia.

“I was here in ’81 and did a documentary with (Vladislav) Tretiak, but I’ve never played hockey in Russia, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to come. I never got the chance to play here,” Gretzky said. “This is going to be my chance, although I’m 51 and slow.”

This event has a number of meanings. They will be playing 40 years after the 1972 Summit Series and 25 years after the 1987 Canada Cup. However, it is also a memorial game to honor those who died when a plane carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team crashed last year.

In Jets return, Burmistrov delivers headshot to Bergeron (Updated)

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Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.

Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:

Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).

The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.

Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…

Two-for-two: Another successful coach’s challenge as Sens reverse Kane’s goal

Dave Cameron
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Coaches are quickly getting the hang of this challenge thing.

Following Mike Babcock’s successful challenge in Toronto’s opening-night loss to Montreal on Wednesday, Babcock’s provincial rival — Sens head coach Dave Cameron — got it right as well, successfully reversing Evander Kane‘s would-be equalizer in the third period.

From the league:

At 10:34 of the third period in the Senators/Sabres game, Ottawa requested a Coach’s Challenge to review whether Buffalo was off-side prior to Evander Kane’s goal.

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Linesman determined that Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons was off-side prior to the goal. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Linesman, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that one or more Players on the attacking team preceded the puck into the attacking zone prior to the goal being scored and that, as a result, the play should have been stopped for an “Off-side” infraction; where this standard is met, the goal will be disallowed.”

Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Buffalo Sabres.

The clock is re-set to show 9:32 (10:28 elapsed time), when the off-side infraction occurred.

As the league later noted, this was the first coach’s challenge under the offside scenario.